The Agricultural Retailers Association presented the Distinguished Service Award to an individual instrumental in the success of ResponsibleAg. Billy Pirkle accepted the award during the ARA Conference & Expo.
ResponsibleAg, an industry-led initiative to improve safe handling and storage of fertilizer, launched in December 2014. The organization assists fertilizer facilities with federal regulatory compliance through education, training and certification.
"Agricultural retailers are already committed to stewardship and safety," said Pirkle, Crop Production Services, Inc. as Senior Director of Environmental, Health and Safety and Chairman of ResponsibleAg. "But the industry didn't have a means to communicate that dedication to the public. ResponsibleAg helps us as an industry to quantify and share our performance."
Developing and implementing ResponsibleAg presented many challenges including a tight timeline and the need to make it a meaningful tool for fertilizer retailers.
"From the start, we established a challenging pace. We stood it up quickly," Pirkle said. "And ResponsibleAg had to be broad enough to cover the diversity of our industry and the regulations we face, but also specific enough to effect change."
Pirkle quickly acknowledged the effort nurturing and launching ResponsibleAg was shared. He is pleased with the progress. More than 1800 facilities have been registered, 400 audits have been conducted and, by the end of the first quarter of 2016, more than 100 facilities will be ResponsibleAg Certified.
"Many people put this together. It was not an individual effort," Pirkle said. "I'm humbled and honored to be recognized with this award."
The ARA Distinguished Service Award honors an individual member of the association who has gone beyond the traditional member and volunteer responsibilities to support the ag retailers industry and the association - making the industry better for all. Selected by the ARA Executive Committee, the designee may come from any of the membership categories in ARA: retail, distributor or manufacturer of equipment, chemicals and fertilizer.
Recent recipients of the Distinguished Service Award include Paul Derig of Simplot; Rod Schroder of WinField; Kim Bohlander of Dow Agrosciences; Dan Weber of Ceres Solutions and Ken Manning of Wilbur-Ellis.
"From the moment we started working on ResponsibleAg, Billy has been dedicated to its success," said President and Chief Executive Officer Daren Coppock. "He has put in countless hours and resources to get it off the ground. We would not have been able to establish this initiative without his knowledge, experience and enthusiastic support."